By Kathleen Rest, Union of Concerned Scientists
My guess is that most parents are far too busy to be following what President Trump did yesterday with the stroke of a pen. But his hot-off-the press Executive Order (EO) has serious and long-term implications for keeping your infants and toddlers safe and healthy.
President Trump has ordered federal agencies to identify for elimination two existing regulations for every new one the agency may propose. The EO also sets a budget of exactly $0 for the total incremental cost of any new regulations in 2017. While the order exempts the military and national security from this policy, let’s see how this might play out for the agency that we all count on to ensure the safety of our consumer products.
Like car seats? Baby cribs?
Don’t take for granted those childhood safety protections brought to you by our nation’s Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
If the CPSC finds that a new toy or other new product poses a safety risk to your child (or to you for that matter), such that it warrants regulatory protection, President Trump says that two existing rules have to go. Like what? Safe cribs? Or the rules that say crib mattresses and kids’ pajamas must be non-flammable? Or how about the rules that set safety standards for the car seat you strap the child into when you’re running errands?
Any one of these safety protections could be on the chopping block if the CPSC wants to protect your children from a new toy whose eyes might fall off or is made with something you wouldn’t want in your child’s mouth.
Setting the clock back
One way this new order is likely to play out is that new rules simply won’t be made. CPSC will be presented with new products that have caused problems –such as a baby bottle or pacifier made with an unsafe new material—but because CPSC will not want to give up essential existing regulations, it will be hard pressed to regulate new products.
That could expose our babies and toddlers to more dangerous products over time.
What value do you place on your child’s safety?
When it comes to your kids’ health and safety, what would you trade off? President Trump’s Executive Order means that our consumer protection agency—and other agencies that provide health and safety safeguards—will be given this onerous responsibility, overseen by the White House Office of Management and Budget.
This kind of across-the-board 2 for 1 directive defies common sense. Trading off one childhood protection for another is a Sophie’s Choice that no parent would want to make. More than short-sighted, it is downright dangerous.
Nobody loves the abstract idea of government regulation, but we can all agree we need to have rules to keep consumer products safe. The administration would have you believe that these rules come about by some bureaucratic process run amok, but in fact rule-making is a deliberative process, ideally informed by the best available science.
Congress has given the CPSC authority to issue rules to protect our families from unsafe products. CPSC scientists study products, gather information from stakeholders, and monitor products on the market. We rely on this process and this agency for the safety of the products we provide for our children and for recalling them when the products put them at risk.
Throwing out this careful approach will undermine the very purpose of these safety standards to protect our families. Let the White House and your representatives in Congress know that this new policy puts our children’s safety at risk.